Entering the Candidates' exhibition

07 April 2013

What is the Candidates’ exhibition?

The annual Candidates’ exhibition shows work by artists seeking election to become Associate Members, or full Members of the RBSA.

What are the requirements?

A candidate for either Associate or full Member must be nominated by two Members. An artist must be elected as an Associate before they will be considered for election as a full Member. Those nominees for Associate are voted for by both Associates and Members whilst those for Member just by full Members. At present there are over 200 Members and Associates.

What do the candidates submit?

Each candidate shows six works to demonstrate their artistic qualities. Successful Candidates for Member are required to donate one of their works (the Diploma work) to the Society’s Permanent Collection.

This year there are 19 candidates seeking to become Associates and 9 candidates seeking to become full Members.


One of the Candidates seeking election for Associate Member, Rupert Cordeaux, winner of Channel 4’s, ‘Watercolour Challenge,’ has spoken to Becky Sexton, Volunteer Gallery Assistant this week:

The exhibition requires each candidate to exhibit six works. How did you go about the selection process for your submissions?

Last year I failed to make it as an Associate and I put that down to the fact that my six oil paintings let me down. Oil painting not really being my strength, either then or now. This year, I have gone back to watercolour which really serves me well in what I try to do. Having decided on watercolours, I tested about twenty of the best ones I had on various people, including my proposer and seconder of course. I then chose the six I liked best and combined all of the results to produce the best six of them all.

The works you submitted in the recent Open all Media exhibition were of church interiors. Can we expect to see a similar theme in this exhibition?

I am irresistibly drawn to mediaeval church architecture and always have been. I also love painting the countryside but at the moment I have been driven indoors by the weather and have been painting lots of church interiors. In Coventry, I feel very lucky to have, on my doorstep, two large, beautiful and infrequently-visited churches in which to work and so when it is cold or wet outside, they are where I go. They are actually like self-contained, interior landscapes.

Why is watercolour your preferred medium?

I adopted watercolour as a way of working, many years ago because it was easy and fairly cheap to get started in and portable enough to carry around outside where most of my work is done. I love the medium now and find, for the time being at least, that it quickly answers all my painting requirements.

Where did you learn your skills?

I certainly didn't learn my skills at school or college. My late father who was an engineer by profession was also a very gifted painter. I learnt a lot from him but on the whole my skills have been, and still are, acquired as the need arises for me to solve problems of how to depict things I see around me. I make lots of mistakes (as I see it) but occasionally I get things right (also, as I see it) and any newly-found skill goes into my armoury, ready for the next challenge.

What is it about the RBSA that attracts you to seek election as an Associate Member?

Associate membership of the RBSA as a necessary step to full Membership. I believe in rising through the ranks. Whilst I know that the question, "what can I do for the RBSA" is  an important one, I would be lying, if I said that I am not attracted to Membership of the RBSA by the prospects of what it will do for me. Those four letters after my name, if I ever get them, will mean more to me than any of my academic qualifications which I have never really had to work hard for before. In order to try and join the RBSA I have busted a gut, almost literally: whilst painting in a field a few weeks ago, I twisted round to grab some stuff blowing off in the wind and gave myself a serious hernia.  How sad is that?

Are you a member of any other societies, and if so, what are the benefits? 

I am a member of the Birmingham Watercolour Society. Again, those letters mean a lot to me as that society is a well-respected one with a world-wide membership. There are opportunities for me to exhibit my work which is reassuring to know.

Can you tell me more about your work process? How long does each painting take? Do you complete the painting on site in one sitting? Are you likely to return to a place you have painted before?

I always work on site as I find extracting ideas from photographs sooooo boring!!  Anyway, a painting can take from as little as half an hour up to three hours to complete. I always lose track of time, or anything for that matter when I am painting. The other day I seemed to spend ages trying to remove grit from my paint box only to discover that the grit was frozen paint. It was minus three at the time and I was painting a picture of three miserable looking ponies.I rarely plan a painting. They seem to just flow from the end of the paint brush. God knows how: literally, probably. I just know if they are what I want them to be or they're not. It's a bit of a mystery really.

Who have been/are your biggest influences?

I look at paintings by artists who seem to me to have tried to solve the same sort of visual problems which interest me. At the risk of boring you to death, here is a list of painters whose work I look at a lot. Velazquez, Vermeer, Bonnington, Sargent, Van Dyke, Samuel Palmer, Constable, Durer. Need I go on??

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I should be very very disappointed, if in a few years from now, my work still looked the same. In fact I would consider it a failure on my part. Having said that, I do not want to force the change and end up with something false. Let me see:  I would love to draw people. Sometimes, I tire of deserted landscapes and empty churches and would love to populate them with proper people, not just blobby tricks for filling in space. At the moment, I am studying the drawings of women by Augustus John. He clearly adored them. If I could draw people with as much relish as that I would be very very happy. In short, you can expect more people.

+ Find out more about the election process.

Other Candidates for Associateship (ARBSA) are:
Helen Appleby, Wayne Attwood, Tracy Barlow, Wendy Brown, Alison Chambers, Mo Enright, Barbara Faulkner, John Garbutt, Caroline Griffin, Paula Hamilton, Hannah Humphreys, Melanie Keevil, Graham Kershaw, Jeff Lomas, Robert Page, Joan Sharma, Chris Tkacz, Maureen Toomey.

Candidates for Membership (RBSA):
Ennis Burnett, Vivienne Cawson, Robert Cox, Elizabeth Forrest, Roger Keeling, Keith Noble, John Graham Reeve, David Tedham, Alistair Tucker.

N.B at the time of interview, results were not known. Best of luck to all the candidates!